Hybrid VR Headset

2015-01-16 VR HybridYesterday I completed the Google Cardboard Virtual Reality (VR) headset and mentioned I was planning to try a simplified hybrid version that would incorporate 3D printed components. Well here it is after a morning of cutting and printing!

One of the problems I had with cutting the original Google Carboard was the difficulty (and pain!) cutting all those small details, slots and holes by hand, eventually using a Dremel to carve out the eye holes (check out my original by clicking here). I have also been looking through the designs on Thingiverse to 3D print, however can’t find a design that seems properly thought through and doesn’t include unnecessarily chunky sections of material that seems wasteful (yes just another bit of motivation to get onto designing my own). However the adjustable arms many designs feature seems useful to optimise user experience for individual eye width, focus etc, and to improve visibility of the phone screen.

I have downloaded and 3D printed just the arms from the OpenDive Headset, which perfectly fits the 25mm lenses I bought on Ebay. Something else I’ve realised through printing is that if I were to 3D print the full headset, it wouldn’t fit onto the small print plate of my Up! Plus 2 3D printer with it’s 140mm maximum dimension. I would either have to slice the model in half and glue together after printing, or print on a larger printer (which reminds me I have still not heard anything about when my Solidoodle Press will arrive, and has the larger print size I would need! Check out my little rant by clicking here).

2015-01-16 Google vs HybridI have also significantly simplified the design of the Google Cardboard template to suit the thick cardboard I’m using and 3D printed adjustable lens holders as shown in the images above. This new design was significantly quicker to cut!

Overall the completed design is nice and easy to make, provided you have a 3D printer on hand. I’m getting a much clearer view of the phone without anything obstructing the lenses, however it takes a few minutes to get the positioning of the arms correct for your eyes. If you look closely at the top images you’ll see I used a sharpie to mark a line on both the cardboard and the lens holders where the optimal position is for my eyes. Like last time I’ve also used a small bolt to hold it all together, and used my 3D printed ‘edditive’ logo to stamp onto the cardboard (which you can read more about here).

– Posted by James Novak

A Whole New World

2015-01-15 Google CardboardIt’s finally finished!

As discussed in yesterday’s post, I’ve been struggling to carve through some very dense 3mm thick cardboard to build my own Google Cardboard Virtual Reality (VR) headset. I did eventually use the Dremel to cut the details for the eye holes, there’s just no way I could cleanly cut them using a knife. Straight lines are one thing, but small circles are a whole different league! So my biggest piece of advice is to use the fluted cardboard recommended by Google, or use a Laser Cutter 😉 The only upside is that this headset feels very strong and durable, so I’m not at all worried about my phone falling out.

Some of the slots also required modification once I started to fold everything up due to the extra thickness of the cardboard. But otherwise it came together really well. I used a small bolt to hold it all together on 1 side rather than gluing so that it can easily be taken apart. And just as a final touch I used my 3D printed ‘edditive’ logo as a stamp (read a previous post about 3D printing a stamp by clicking here).

So far I’ve only watched a couple of short demo videos on Youtube using the glasses (The Matrix, 3D Canyon Coaster) but what a ride! Although I think it’s time for a new phone, I’m still using a Samsung Galaxy SII and with virtual reality you really need a much higher resolution screen – mine is extremely pixelated once you get those lenses on!

Now it’s time to take the next step and 3D print some parts to compare. I’m thinking of a possible hybrid between the Google Carboard and some of the full 3D printed headsets you can download from Thingiverse…

– Posted by James Novak

When Cardboard Feels Like Steel

2015-01-04 Google CardboardFinding time to get to this little (well at least I thought it would be little!) project to build the Google Cardboard Virtual Reality (VR) headset has been a struggle over the Xmas and New Year period. I originally found inspiration after playing with the Oculus Rift at a VR meeting (click here to read my original post).

My big mistake has been in using a very thick, solid cardboard (often called ‘boxboard’ used for architectural models) since it’s what I had lying around. It’s an absolute nightmare to cut all the details through about 3mm of card! The only upside is that the pieces I have completed are very rigid, so I don’t feel worried about putting my phone in there. The photos above show the process of printing the templates from Google (image 1), cutting them out (image 2), and then tracing and cutting these from cardboard (image 3). I really only have the eye holes left to go, and think I might try using a dremel to get these right. With a knife I fear they will just end up severely hacked!

Since I’ve been asked to give a talk about the opportunities and limitations of 3D printing and virtual reality, I might also try some of the freely available 3D printable headsets for comparison. I bought 2 sets of 25x45mm lenses from Ebay, so can try a few different things. Stay tuned for the completed Google Cardboard and 3D printed headsets over the coming days. If I can find time, I’d love to design and print my own, there’s not much out there at the moment.

– Posted by James Novak

Baby Steps into Virtual Reality

Google CardboardLast night I attended the first Virtual Reality (VR) meetup in Brisbane, rounding out what has been an extremely nerdy week for me! But what an inspirational couple of hours trialing the Oculus Rift (awesome hover board game paired with a Wii Balance Board) and the soon to be released Samsung Gear VR. My interest is definitely coming from the angle of a designer, and what possibilities there may be to improve both the design of a 3D product within a VR environment, and then sharing this with a client or student. The digital revolution encompasses almost every possible industry from business and law to design and technology, and VR seems like another area similar to 3D printing that is growing exponentially across all these disciplines.

So, on a high (or maybe just still dizzy from the hover board!) I’ve taken a tiny little step into this world by purchasing some lenses so I can make my own Google Cardboard device that pairs with my phone (lenses cost $3.75 on Ebay, the cardboard and other bits I already have lying around). Sure it’s not perfect, but there’s nothing wrong with baby steps! And the idea of ‘making’ my own hardware is definitely interesting as I sit next to a 3D printer…. So many ideas!!!

Thanks Lex Van Cooten for organising the event and opening this new world to me. If anyone has their own experiences or tips I’d love to hear them, just leave me a comment 🙂

– Posted by James Novak